By Hannah Heimbuch
I went to the Colors of Homer show at Kbay Caffe on Friday for a lot of reasons. I wanted to absorb some community art, be supportive of young voices, and give my little sister a chance to see some of her slightly older contemporaries braving the stage. All of those things met my expectations. Check, check and check.
What I didn’t expect was to be completely bowled over by the skill and strength of the teenagers who shared their art with Friday’s audience. There’s no other way to say it — those kids killed it. But it was more than their raw skills that still had me grinning after the show.
Colors of Homer is a student-directed organization that cultivates creative and performance space for student art — be it visual arts, drama, spoken word, music, etc. Alayne Tetor and Matthew Tucker formed the group less than two years ago, but from what I saw on Friday, its roots have taken a strong and undeniable hold in the Homer youth community.
To be sure, any time we see young people exercising their voice and identity it’s something to celebrate. Homer has worked hard to foster opportunities for youth to find an outlet in expressive arts; something I benefitted from during my own teenage years at the End of the Road.
That being said, events like this show that our community is still reaching brave new ways to support the spirit and tenacity of our youngest voices.
What struck me about the students I saw Friday was not so much that they’d been building confidence and practicing their art — though they clearly had — it was the other things they’d been cultivating. Acceptance. Voice. Sincerity. Trust. And an edgy authenticity that was not only entertaining, but also inspiring.
I was intrigued by the diversity I saw. It seemed as though they couldn’t all be lumped into any one or two or three groups based on age or background or interests. I saw two friends, state champions from Homer’s Drama Debate and Forensics team, get up and perform a drop-dead hilarious skit with such energy and wit I could hardly believe they weren’t professional actors. But what clinched it was how much fun they were obviously having.
I saw a young woman walk shyly to the stage, a sly grin on her face, and share a hilarious and honest poem about her magnificent awkwardness.
Two sisters collaborated on a song, and when they had a small hiccup they were so charming and calm it only enriched the show.
These are powerful moments, people. Simple and irreplaceable.
Student emcees Sabina Karwowski and Lindsey Schneider introduced their peers with humor, style and kindness — and reminded the audience that Colors of Homer is a place for creativity and inspiration, but also for mistakes.
Rightfully or not, I certainly did my share of eye-rolling as a teenager. There were times I heard talk about safe spaces for expression, for mistakes, for honesty, for thinking outside the box, but I wasn’t often convinced it was anything more than just talk. Upon hearing such encouragement, I’d think — yeah right, I’ll be under this rock for the next two years, thanks.
Not so for Colors of Homer. Participants approached their creative work, full of vulnerability and emotion, with an impressive level of comfort and grace. It took me all weekend to name that mysterious quality that had hooked me so effortlessly.
After much thought, however, I finally realized what it was — fearlessness.
It isn’t just that we have talented young people among us. It’s that teenagers are shocking, creative, brave and opinionated people, characteristics that are absolutely critical to community health. And they are finding a strong and prominent place here in Homer.
As a student-led group, Colors of Homer has the power to generate a legacy of youth leaders that will be an integral part of our community identity. The creators and young participants of this organization should be commended for the endless opportunities they’ve opened up for the current and future youth of Homer.
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